El Nuevo Herald published an article on its website late last night titled “Internal Document: Venezuelan Army Becomes Prisoner to Crime and Anarchy”. The article is centered on what the publication claims to be a confidential memo drafted by a high-ranking Venezuelan army officer directed to Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez calling attention to the decomposing state of the country’s military.

In the document–which was allegedly drafted two weeks ago–Brigadier General Edgar Jose Rojas Borges “great concern” over what he considers to be the “unchecked growth” in criminal activity by soldiers, including theft and insubordination.

According to El Nuevo Herald, part of the document includes a personal plea from the general who wrote it to Padrino Lopez asking for permission to take action on the matter. The plea reads:

I respectfully ask that we study the possibility of setting up a working group with the Military Personnel Directorate with the goal of setting goals and looking for solutions to this problem, which is deteriorating our National Bolivarian armed Forces.

Brigadier General Rojas cites the crimes of “theft, dereliction of duty, abuse of authority” as occurring rampantly in the armed forces, and blames their prevalence for the “alarming” rate of desertion among enlisted men.

The same article cites a retired Venezuelan army general named Antonio Rivero suggested that the general disarray affecting the Venezuelan armed forces is merely reflective of the chaotic state of the rest of the country. Rivero said:

If a soldier is going hungry, and he sees the general over here stealing, and the deputy over there also doing it along with the governor, well, at the end of the day you can expected that he will do it, too.

El Nuevo Herald does not appear to have a copy of the letter. While the letter was marked “confidential” by military administrators, it is not clear if it ever reached the desk of the Minister of Defense, or what action he may have taken upon reading it.

Venezuelans Top Migrant Group to Chile in 2017

Chile’s La Tercera published an article today in which it revealed that Venezuela is sitting at the #1 spot for migration applications to the country.

According to the newspaper, the number of Venezuelans who have formally requested to migrate to Chile between January 1 and June 30 of this year sits at 32,089. That figure already tops the record set in 2016, when 31,949 Venezuelans submitted paperwork in the hopes of moving to Chile.

The figures come from Chile’s Departameto de Extranjeria y Migracion, the country’s migration authority.

The article also points out that the number of Venezuelans looking to migrate to Chile has skyrocketed in recent years, jumping a staggering 1,971% from 2013.

The figures offer a glimpse at the toll that the unfolding crisis in Venezuela is taking on the country’s population, forcing an increasing number of residents to look for a better life elsewhere.

Claudia Silva, an official with the Chilean migration service, told La Tercera that Venezuela had never been in the list of top 10 countries when it comes to migration to Chile. For her, the fact that Venezuela now occupies the top spot on the list is clear:

This has to do with the situation in the origin country more than the condition of the destination country. In Chile, nothing has changed and nothing in particular has been done to attract [Venezuelan migrants].

Gilberto Aranda, an expert in Latin American studies at the Universidad de Chile, told the publication that one of the reasons for the runaway influx of Venezuelans might has to do with the community that is already established in the country. Aranda explained:

There’s a combination of political and economic prisoners where who encourage Venezuelans to leave their country.

Aranda also said that Venezuela has historically not been a country of migrants; on the contrary, he characterized Venezuelans as being generally “adhered to their land”.This has changed in recent years, Aranda explained, due to the collapse of the country.

The scope of the country’s collapse appears to have an impact on the kind of migrant that is likely to flee Venezuela, according to Hector Carvacho, who is a scholar at the Escuela de Psicologia de la Universidad Catolica. Carvacho said that the Venezuelan migrant in Chile “tends to be more qualified in terms of education and work [experience]” than migrants from other countries, and generally try to incorporate themselves into the upper-middle class.

Oil Spill Affecting Amuay Bay

Oil has been spilling into the Amuay Bay and surrounding areas in Falcon state since last night, according to El Nacional.

According to the newspaper, the source of the spill is the “collapse” of an oil storage unit at the Amuay refinery, which is located near Punto Fijo in Falcon state. The news came via Ivan Freites, who is a representative at an oil workers’ union.

Freites explained that one of the refinery’s three storage units had overwhelmed by heavy rains that fell in the area recently, and warned that the spill was significant:

The spill is incalculable. We’re working with numbers in excess of 200,000 barrels. You can see it on the beach. The ships that are moored there are covered in oil.

There is no official confirmation as of yet regarding the spill. Freites’ claim that the spill might involve 200,000 barrels of oil would likely it in the top 10 spills in history.

The Amuay refinery was the site of an explosion in 2012 that killed 48 people and injured 151 others.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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